William Wesley McDonaldJune 11, 1946 ~ September 9, 2014 (age 68)
W. Wesley McDonald
1946 - 2014
W. Wesley McDonald, a professor of Political Science at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, an author, and a leading authority on the scholar, Russell Kirk, died on September 9 at John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, after a brief illness. He was 68.
Students and colleagues at the college describe him as a talented and passionate teacher, a spirited defender of conservative thought, and a loyal friend and mentor. He kept high academic standards and pushed the students to achieve their potential, but did it in a kind and loving manner.
Prior to joining the faculty at Elizabethtown College in 1980, Dr. McDonald worked for three years as Dr. Russell Kirk’s research assistant. Kirk, considered to be one of the founding fathers of the conservative movement, was his friend and mentor for more than 25 years. This long association laid the foundation for Dr. McDonald’s 264-page book, Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology (University of Missouri Press, 2004).
The book was highly-acclaimed and led to a major article in the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as an online symposium and an appearance on C-SPAN . In 2013, Dr. McDonald participated in a Symposium, “The Conservative Mind at 60,” and presented a paper on the legacy of Russell Kirk.
Dr. McDonald held three degrees in Political Science: a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America (1982); a Master’s degree from Bowling Green State University (1969), and a B.A. from Towson University (1968).
Dr. McDonald was born in Catonsville, Maryland, the only son of William E. and Marie C. McDonald of Ellicott City, Maryland. He grew up Howard County in Maryland, attending Howard High School in Ellicott City (class of 1964). In 1996, he married Alice Baumgart, a former dean and vice principal of Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. The couple met on the Mount of Olives in Israel.
Dr. McDonald wrote numerous articles in newspapers and scholarly journals on American politics and conservatism, and was a regular guest, along with his Elizabethtown colleague, Dr. Fletcher McClellan, on the Penn Cable Network to discuss election campaigns and their underlying dynamics.
It would be wrong to think of Dr. McDonald as a one-note advocate for conservatism though. His scholarly interests included American electoral politics and campaigns, classic films, political novels, the history of Western political ideas, and modern ideologies.
Dr. McDonald was the chairman of the College’s pre-law advisory committee and a faculty adviser for the College Republicans. He also was a member of the American Political Science Association, and the Philadelphia Society; and served on the executive board of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association.
In addition to his academic interests, “Wes” as his friend called him, loved history of all kinds, classical music, especially Wagnerian operas, tracing his family’s roots, model trains, books, good food, animals, and was endlessly fascinated by and kept abreast of emerging evidence on that most mysterious religious relic, the Shroud of Turin.
McDonald travelled extensively in the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, Mexico, Israel, New Zealand and Australia. He and his wife enjoyed many summers at the cottage they owned on the Rideau Lakes in Eastern Ontario. His travels also took him to Portugal and Iceland where he taught courses in Portugal offered for military personnel by the University of Maryland.
Dr. McDonald’s survivors include his beloved wife, Alice Baumgart; his mother, Marie McDonald, of Catonsville; his sister Christine Herman of Woodbine, Maryland; a niece, Erin Herman, of Walkersville, Maryland; a nephew Todd Herman of Chicago, Illinois; an honorary grandson Bora Ozkanca, of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania; many cousins and surviving aunts and uncles; and his loyal dog, McGuffee, a West Highland Terrier.
Two memorial services are being held, one at Elizabethtown College and one in Maryland.
At Elizabethtown, the memorial service will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 30 in Leffler Chapel followed by a reception in the Chapel Foyer.
The Maryland memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 4, at Morgan Chapel United Methodist Church, 6750 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, Maryland 21797 to be followed by a reception at the home of his cousin, Pat and her husband, Charles Browning, 1870 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, Maryland.
Arrangements are under the care of the Miller-Sekely Funeral Home & Crematory of Elizabethtown. To share condolences please go to www.millerfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the W. Wesley McDonald Memorial Scholarship Fund, Elizabethtown College, Office of Development, One
Alpha Drive, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.